Michigan car wash CCW killings: Stupid is as stupid does

You know the story by now.

Two Michigan concealed carry permit (CCW) holders, 43 year-old James Pullum and 56 year-old Robert Taylor get involved in some kind of road rage.  Mr. Pullum pulls over to the side of the road at a car wash (for whatever reason) and Mr. Taylor, the alleged instigator, follows behind him.  The drivers exit their vehicles, an argument ensues and a gunfight breaks out.  The two participants die at the scene having proven their point.



Yeah I know, I wasn’t there and clearly one of these two men was the aggressor.  (Widely seen as Mr. Taylor whom we are told by witnesses was tailgating the other driver, Mr. Pullum)  I’ve had several people tell me that by calling both of these men idiots during my national radio broadcast on Sunday 9-22-2013 that I may be jumping to conclusions.   In one case I was reminded by one of my guests that we “don’t know what Mr. Pullum was thinking” when he pulled his car over which unintentionally or not, lead to the altercation that killed them both.

My response?  I don’t give a damn what Mr. Pullum was thinking when he pulled his car over at the car wash that evening.  It doesn’t matter what was going through his mind and no amount of reasoning will change the fact that this incident should never have happened.  E-mailers have told me that it’s easy for me to “Monday morning quarterback” the events “in hindsight” and that I may be unfair in my description of these two men because one of them (Mr. Pullum) may have only been trying to protect his passengers.

Seriously?  I’m jumping to conclusions?  Two men are dead.  Both of them shot and killed in a dirty car-wash parking lot, one of them in front of his wife and mother.  What conclusions would I be “jumping” to?  Under what circumstances would it have been acceptable for Mr. Pullum to voluntarily pull his car over and exit his vehicle to confront a road raging maniac unless he were forced off of the road by the other vehicle (which by all accounts he was not), and do it while he was in possession of a deadly weapon? 


Is this the advice that any responsible trainer, self-defense expert, police officer, sheriff or anyone else for that matter including a parent, would give to a student, a classroom during CCW training or to their children?  Give me one example of a responsible self-defense expert who would advise an individual to voluntarily pull his automobile over, exit his vehicle and confront someone during a road-rage incident at any time let alone while armed with a deadly weapon.  Don’t give me the excuse that since he didn’t have the gun on his person when he exited his vehicle that he was unarmed.  The fact that he had to reach for his weapon is absolutely irrelevant.  (Ask Mr. Taylor if Mr. Pullum was armed or not).

Oh, but wait, I’ve been told.  “Since Mr. Pullum didn’t exit the vehicle with his gun on his person it proves he wasn’t looking for a fight.”  There’s truth to that and I agree with the statement.  He may not have been looking for a fight and in fact he probably wasn’t (I’d bet money on that) but that doesn’t answer my question now does it?  Nope, it actually proves my point further.  Are we to believe that Mr. Pullum pulled over thinking the other road raging driver and he were going to make arrangements to meet for a cold beer sometime?  Was he so naïve to believe that there wasn’t a risk for a confrontation?

None of what anyone tells me will change the fact that this should never have happened.  I’m not singling out either of these men individually to assess blame nor am I blaming the “victim.”  The blame belongs to both men and whether Mr. Taylor started the childish altercation is irrelevant.  Yes, Mr. Pullum and his family appear to have been the victims of Mr. Taylor, who from all accounts seems to have been the instigator.  From the evidence so far, there is no disputing that, however the fact that Mr. Pullum didn’t ask for this to happen to he and his family is also irrelevant.  It did happen and as a result, he was forced to make some decisions.


He made the wrong ones.  Deciding to stop the car and confront the aggressor was not the smart choice.  He should have been on the phone with 911 as the incident was unfolding. (He was not)  He should have never stopped his vehicle but rather should have continued to drive to a safe location such as a police station or anywhere else he would have been instructed by operators and/or responding officers had he made that call.  As the great Massad Ayoob mentioned on my radio show on Sunday 9-22-2013, if the situation continued to escalate further at least there would have been a recording of the events as they unfolded.

This is not “Monday morning quarterbacking,” ladies and gentlemen.  This is sound advice I dispense on Armed American Radio weekly.  Always avoid a situation that has the potential to escalate whenever you are carrying a gun.  There should be no exception.  Leave your bravado and machismo at home.  (If you are not responsible enough to do so, you should not be carrying a firearm)

If you can leave the scene safely and avoid a confrontation, do so.

Heck that’s great advice whether you’re carrying a gun or not.  No victim, (and Mr. Pullum appears to be the “victim” in this case) asks to become a victim.  I can guarantee you that Mr. Pullum did not want to die in a car wash parking lot in front of his wife and mother that night…and frankly he shouldn’t have. Will someone please give me one reason not to have attempted further avoidance techniques before confrontation?


Whether you like it or not, as CCW holders, we are held to a higher standard.  We are more responsible than the average citizen and the numbers prove so.  Although the mainstream media are (predictably) using this tragic incident to their advantage to paint all CCW holders as lunatics, the facts, as usual prove them wrong.  This is a highly unusual occurrence and there are few if any examples of this happening amongst the tens of millions of law-abiding CCW permit holders across the nation.

Let this tragic incident be a lesson to you whether you carry a gun or not.  Avoid confrontation at all cost and only use your weapon as a last resort when your ability to escape has been exhausted.  Mr. Pullum and Mr. Taylor should have never met in that car wash parking lot.  Their confrontation and subsequent deaths were avoidable and the result of poor decisions made by two people who should have known better.  Period.

Mark Walters is the nationally syndicated host of the Armed American Radio broadcast, Co-author of two books Lessons from Armed America with Kathy Jackson (Whitefeather Press, 2009) and Lessons from Unarmed America with Rob Pincus (Whitefeather Press, 2013) as well as a regular columnist for Concealed Carry Magazine   For information on where to listen to Mark on the radio, please visit www.armedamericanradio.com


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